Ten months have passed since the founding of the Shinzo Abe administration. It took a long time for Abe to regain the position of prime minister, but I feel that he is steadily accomplishing things via his unique convictions and strategies.
During his first stint as prime minister, Abe openly upheld the concept of breaking free from the postwar regime. The United States believed that Abe was attempting to escape from the American influence and make Japan into a nation capable of its own self defense, so it threw up invisible walls and caused Abe to resign from his office. Based on this experience, the current Abe administration is managing the government according to a skillful detour strategy. Abe knows the Murayama and Kono Statements are mistaken, but he has declared that he will follow them anyway. He donated ceremonial greenery for the regular festivals held at Yasukuni Shrine in spring and autumn, and made a cash offering on August 15, the anniversary of the end of the war, without paying a visit to the shrine in person.
In this way, Abe is avoiding things that excessively provoke the U.S., China, and Korea. However, he is also making steadfast efforts to guide Japan in a conservative direction. For example, he appointed Ichiro Komatsu, a former diplomat who agrees with the right to collective defense, as the director-general of the Cabinet Legislation Bureau. He also selected Yuji Sato as the first Japan Coast Guard commandant who is a uniformed personnel member.
Abe is also working to open a path towards arms exports. It is predicted that the revision of the Three Principles on Arms Exports will be proposed at a government panel discussion – chaired by Shinichi Kitaoka, president of the International University of Japan – on security guarantees and defense capability.
On October 10, the economic section of the morning edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper contained an article that read as follows:
In the meeting, many people expressed views asking for a re-examination of the three principles, such as, "We should enhance our cooperation with countries that have the same values of freedom and democracy, are pro-peace, and are anti-expansionism." After the meeting, Kitaoka spoke to the press about the revisions, saying, "We will work out a direction [in national security guarantee strategies]."
On August 6, when Abe gave greetings at the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima – which was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos – he described the dropping of the atomic bombs as an "inhumane act" for the first time.
The front page of the Sankei Shimbun morning edition on October 11 contained an article entitled, "Signing a declaration on the non-usage of nuclear arms." It read:
On October 10, the government resolved to sign the joint declaration that is being prepared by interested nations at the UN, stating that nuclear weapons are inhumane and appealing for their disuse. This is the first time Japan has agreed with a declaration with this intent.
Japan did not sign the declaration because it was in opposition to its security guarantee policy of depending on the American "nuclear umbrella." However, Japan has decided to endorse the declaration because of expected revisions recognizing the deterrence of nuclear weapons.
Japan is gradually establishing a unique stance on nuclear weapons in this way.
The Abe government is also responding, with no oversights, to the economic policies that are drawing the most interest from citizens. On October 1, Abe announced that the consumption tax ratio would be raised to 8% in April 2014. At the same time, he is attempting to implement many tax reduction measures.
On October 10, an article entitled, "Financial loss for large corporations regarding entertainment expenses" was run on the front page of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. It read:
In FY1992, corporate entertainment expenses totaled 6.2 trillion yen. This decreased to 2.8 trillion yen in FY2011. This places pressure on the managers of restaurants, many of which are small businesses. It is also pointed out as one factor that restrained consumption.
This article said it would be a good idea to revise the tax system in FY2014 to allow the factoring in of financial loss from entertainment expenses at large corporations with capital stock of 100 million yen or more. I think this would be an effective tax reduction measure.
I feel the most pressing economic policy in Japan is the restarting of nuclear power plants. The reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant where the accident occurred was very old; it was designed by General Electric, an American company, more than 40 years ago. The nearby Onagawa plant was made in Japan. Even though it was even closer to the epicenter than Fukushima No. 1, this plant withstood both the earthquake and tsunami, and no accident occurred. One could say this fully validates the safety of Japanese-made nuclear plants. Despite this, power generation has been shut down at all Japanese nuclear power plants since then.
Firstly, nuclear plants produce power by the nuclear fission of atomic fuel. The heat generated in this way is used to make steam, which turns turbines. Control rods are inserted to stop nuclear fission during periodic inspections, which halts power generation. However, the atomic fuel continues producing decay heat, so it must be continually cooled.
In the case of the Fukushima No. 1 accident as well, the control rods were inserted into the atomic reactors during the earthquake. Emergency shutdown was accomplished, and nuclear fission was controlled. However, electric power was lost when the tsunami arrived at the plant afterwards. The coolant pump for cooling the decay heat could not be used, so the fuel reached a high temperature and a meltdown occurred. Many people have a mistaken understanding of this accident, which was entirely different from Chernobyl, in which the atomic reactor itself went out of control and exploded. The explosion happened at Fukushima when hydrogen was produced after the zirconium coating on the fuel rods reached high temperatures and deoxidization took place. The hydrogen filled the building, venting could not take place in an appropriate way, and hydrogen explosions occurred. For that reason, inspections of the seawater from the coast near Fukushima No. 1 have only detected radiation equal to 1/500th of the World Health Organization's water quality guidelines.
Power generation at all of Japan's nuclear power plants is shut down at present. Whether they can be re-started will be determined based on safety inspections that have been conducted since July according to the new standard. However, these safety inspections are being delayed due to causes such as requests for the submission of additional documents from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). In actuality, the NRA is a committee created by former Prime Minister Naoto Kan – who proposed that Japan aim to abolish nuclear power generation – in order to prohibit the re-starting of nuclear plants. If we don't re-start these plants as soon as possible, even if it means replacing all the members of the NRA, Japan will continue having to purchase crude oil and natural gas to the tune of four trillion yen per year. This may destroy the economic improvement that is occurring at great pains via Abenomics. I feel this must be avoided at all costs.
During the first oil crisis that began in October 1973, the price of crude oil rose from two dollars to more than ten dollars per barrel. The world economy fell into turmoil, but Japan managed to overcome sudden price jumps by refining its energy-conservation technologies. In this way, it weathered the oil crisis and accomplished economic development. Because Japan is capable of such things, we should learn from the Fukushima No. 1 accident and the suspension of nuclear power generation that has occurred afterwards over the mid-term. I think that we should concentrate our technical power for purposes such as developing nuclear plants where accidents will never occur, as well as efficient thermal power stations.
The U.S. is transforming itself from a country that imports energy to one that exports it via the development of technologies to mine shale gas, which could not be utilized in the past. Ensuring crude oil from Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries was a matter of life or death for the U.S., so it proactively intervened in this region. But now that crude oil is becoming less necessary, the U.S. is also reducing its influence in the Middle East. After World War II, the U.S. has continued fighting in the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and Iraq War. It has come to reign as the policeman of the world by expending a great deal of money in war expenditures, as well as much human sacrifice. However, the U.S. is shifting to a trend of focusing on its domestic issues and reducing its forces in overseas countries in order to maintain sound financial affairs. The U.S. is withdrawing its forces from many regions, including Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. For example, the U.S. Armed Forces stationed in Okinawa are even being moved to Guam.
In contrast, China is continually growing as it increases its annual war expenditures by two digits over the past 20 years. It has had effective control over Scarborough Shoal, a territory of the Philippines in the South China Sea, since last year. China is upping the pressure by stopping patrol boats, roping off the entrance to the atoll, and prohibiting Philippine fishing boats from entering and departing.
China also claims the Japanese Senkaku Islands as part of its territory. China is growing more and more arrogant, and Chinese ships and airplanes continually commit incursions into Japan's territorial waters and airspace.
Up until the recent past, there was a different prime minister in Japan each year. China thought Japan was a weak country that would bend under the slightest pressure, so I suspect it has been troubled by the founding of the Abe administration. For example, this government immediately made an official announcement when the Chinese navy aimed a fire control radar at a Japanese ship. The Abe administration actually came about because of a strong trend of growing conservatism among the Japanese citizens, who saw how anti-Japanese demonstrations – related to the Senkaku Islands issue – organized by the Chinese government led to attacks on and the destruction of Japanese corporations. I can't help but feel that China has reaped what it has sown. There is still instability in the Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping, which began in full-fledged way this year. I believe China's true feeling is one of worry, now that it has stepped back from the strong assertions it made on the Senkaku Islands issue.
The Abe government is not compromising as it implements a detour strategy. Its first aim should be economic recovery and reinstating Japan as the world's second-largest economic power. To accomplish economic growth, we must quickly amend the situation in which nuclear power plants are stopped – which leads to rising electricity costs and a total of four trillion yen of national wealth going to waste. The NRA has created detailed regulations for safe nuclear plants that don't need to be stopped, and has carried out continual inspections based on these. This is a classic example of the fact that the enemy of the Japanese people is the Japanese people.
Unfortunately, around 10% of people in Japan are anti-Japanese. Only 5% to 6% of Japanese people are actually hoping for Japan's revival; the remaining 80% learned in school that Japan did terrible things, which they believe because they hear the same things in the media. It will be difficult to change the tenants of the anti-Japanese sect, but there is still plenty of time to enlighten the people who believe in mistaken education and media reports. My life's work is to convey the truth to such people.
If more and more people woke up to the truth, it is certain that Abe's supporters would increase. The Abe administration should aim to be a long-term government via accurate education. If things continue in this way Abe will definitely win in the presidential election two years from now, and will be victorious in the double election that will probably be held three years in the future as well. He would be in power for three years from that point. If this could be accomplished, it might be a good idea for Abe to think about stepping down after the triumph of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games – for which Tokyo's bid was successful because of Abe's speech. However, there are many things that Japan must do over the seven-year period before the Olympics.
In September I was invited by the Government of Pakistan to visit Pakistan, where I held a Big Talk discussion with the minister of state for commerce and textile industry. I also sat at the same table as the president at a welcome banquet.
Pakistan is the 78th country I have visited; I have conducted dialogues with government officials and financiers in many countries, most of whom praise the country of Japan. This is not flattery, but is based on many different factors. The people of the world know about the true Japan, but Japanese people – the most critical part of the equation – do not. We must increase knowledge of this fact and help the Japanese ethnic group regain its pride. Afterwards, we should amend the constitution and create an army that has both offensive and defensive capabilities. In this way, Japan – located in between the ascending China and the U.S., which is withdrawing its troops and becoming more inwardly focused – could contribute to peace by maintaining a balance of power in East Asia. This would be the most proactive type of pacifism.
The October 12 issue of the Sankei Shimbun contained a column entitled, "Political measures: no more grounds to the argument by the New Komeito Party (NKP) leader." According to this article, NKP leader Natsuo Yamaguchi discussed approving the exercise of the right to collective self defense, saying, "We must make efforts to encourage understanding by our neighboring countries, surrounding countries, and allies." However, understanding has been obtained from neighboring countries via an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit meeting, and from allies via "two-plus-two" talks (by the Japan-United States Security Consultative Committee) with the U.S. in Tokyo.
Only Japan's surrounding countries remain. China and North Korea – which threaten Japan – will never agree in any case. South Korea has become a fanatical, anti-Japanese country and is incapable of making rational judgments. Understanding from these countries is not necessary. Therefore, I fully agree with the statement that there are no longer any grounds to the NKP's cautious theory of using the right to collective self defense.
It seems like the NKP has been entrusted with defending against reckless actions on the part of the Abe administration. There is no longer any need for this; I think it is only hanging on because of the approval rating of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). If the NKP were to stand in the way of safety policies more than it does now, I think that Abe will need to reconsider the alliance with the NKP.
I am hoping the next prime minister will be a female politician with decent views on the nation, history, and the world, partially to encourage the advancement of women into the political world. If a politician of this sort was handed a firmly conservative government by Abe, she could banish the dark cloud of the mistaken history that has been upheld in the past, and could help revive Japan as a country worthy of pride. I will continue providing unsparing support with the aim of cultivating decent politicians who will ensure that the LDP is in power until 2020.
10:00 p.m., October 20, 2013 (Sunday)